Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why We Fight

I promised John Kass that I would be coming for him. Well, here I am, Johnny Boy. And lucky for you, I'm extra cranky (no, not PMS, you pig), having seen Lady in the Water AND The Happening in one week. So, watch out, this kitty has sharpened her claws, and she's out to get you. Me-ow. You know the part in Batman Returns when Michelle Pfeiffer becomes Catwoman in her apartment, and one of the final stages of her transformation is to punch out letters from her "Hello There" neon sign so it says "Hell here"? And how she only did this after she had been pushed out of her office building to her death by Christopher Walken? Yeah, I'm madder than that. The meek little pussycat is about to roar.

To warm up, I'm going to use Entertainment Weekly's Gregory Kirschling as a punching bag. Gee, hope I don't break a pink, freshly manicured nail. In the June 13th issue of EW, Kirschling weaseled a little column into the movies section entitled, "Your Movie Is Too Long! Making Sex Safe For Guys." Note that this was ignorantly written two weeks after the film's release, meaning that Mr. Kirschling had full knowledge of the film's impact, success, and significance for women. He blurbs beneath the title, "How did Sex and the City end up being 146 minutes long?! Watch as we edit the movie for beleaguered boyfriends and husbands everywhere. (Everyone else, be warned: Mild spoilers follow!"

These "beleaguered" legions of men should be grateful they even have girlfriends or wives if they cop that kind of attitude with them. I bet to their faces, they're all like, "Of course, honey, let's go see it." And I bet they probably don't mind when their significant others play SATC-inspired dress-up. I bet you don't have as much of a problem with it when your woman is looking fine in her Manolos (which you probably BOUGHT her, or else resent that she is self-sufficient enough to buy them herself) and banging outfit. Not like clothes mean everything, but if people like Kirschling and John Kass are stupid enough to reduce it to superficiality, I'll play their little games.

Also, aren't relationships give and take? I doubt one woman ever put a gun to her boyfriend/husband's head and forced him to take her to see Sex and the City. And how many times have women good-naturedly gone along to so-called "guy flicks"? But more about this later. If Kirschy can do some dissecting of this film, I can dissect HIS dissecting.

On the left side of his column, he breaks down the plot into intervals. On the right side, which is what I plan on focusing on, is where he plays manly man and cuts out chunks that he feels would save the poor darlings from the distress caused by this film.

Here are his points on expendable minutes:

1. "First scene to go: the one where the women meet Samantha on the street and shriek. And shriek. And shriek. Do women really shriek at one another like this? While we're at it, let's lose the whole auction scene that follows." This subtracts five minutes.

Rebuttal: Seeing as how Samantha lives in LA now, the first reunion between the fab foursome is pretty damn important. I wouldn't call it "shrieking." They're not banshees. Excitedly squealing, perhaps. And yes, women do that. We have feelings, and we let them out. When I reunite with girl friends who I haven't seen in a long time, I vocally emit my happy feelings, with words accompanying the sounds. Kirschling makes us sound like dolphins. What do men do when they see friends after a long time apart? Do the silent, macho one arm, one second long hug? Do they grunt like Tim Taylor on Home Improvement? Or do they homophobically avoid eye or physical contact and just stand aloof with their arms crossed ten feet away from each other? So, "do women really shriek at one another like this?" Do men usually oink at one another?

Also, the auction scene is crucial because it sets up Samantha's storyline.

2. "Love you and your snappy Diane Arbus quip, Candice Bergen, but you're fired. In fact, any scene that has the word Vogue in it is gone. That name-brand-dropping, retail-porn wedding-dress montage? It's not even going on the DVD!" This subtracts 10 minutes.

Rebuttal: Of course, you WOULD want to cut out the Bergen/Vogue stuff. This element emphasizes Carrie's professional status, that designers are fawning over her to wear their stuff. She's made it. I'm not sure why the montage won't be on the DVD, but the fans loved it. The dresses are fab, and Sarah Jessica Parker looks gorgeous (it puts her detractors to shame). She's basking in her dream wedding moment. And yeah, like this is the only time a major motion picture dropped a product's name.

3. "Here's a rule: If the scene isn't set in NYC, it's out. This means a lot less Samantha, but that'll teach her for moving to L.A. Her subplot with the well-endowed fornicator next door is deadly." This subtracts 20 minutes.

Rebuttal: My, aren't we closed-minded. If it's not in NYC, it's out? Maybe the whole movie should take place in Carrie's closet. Would that be better? We wouldn't want these strong women running rampant around North America. Reel them in. They are out of control. That'll teach Samantha for moving to LA? Her moving is an integral part of her character arc, and her subplot with the well-endowed fornicator (jealous, Greg?) is what makes Samantha...Samantha.

4. "More silly fashion, more loud shrieking: We're cutting the girly 'Walk This Way' dress-up sequence where Carrie models old clothes while her friends caterwaul on the couch. Easy call." This subtracts 2 minutes.

Rebuttal: Two minutes? Is that worth cutting? Sorry the sequence is too "silly" for you, but this is a demonstration of Carrie's fashion evolution (including the beloved tutu). In case you haven't noticed, she's something of a fashion icon. The girls are also saying good-bye to Carrie's apartment, home base for the entire series. It's fun, and it's poignant. It stays.

5. "You know what? Let's ax the whole Mexico sequence. Remember the rule: No NYC, no mas. Just jump to Jennifer Hudson. Carrie's still mopey then, too." This subtracts 20 minutes.

Rebuttal: Are you crazy?! They're in Mexico on what should have been Carrie and Big's honeymoon. It's significant for them to be there so she can confront it, no matter how "mopey" she might be. I'd be mopey, too! Sheesh. Give her a break. SJP does some of her best acting in Mexico. Also, it's a getaway. Clearly, NYC has been tainted for the time being. Mexico gives the girls a fantastic chance to bond and showcase the chemistry we love so much, and it gives Carrie time and space to mend. Doesn't she deserve that?

6. "Charlotte's news flash? Who cares? As punishment for the 'Poughkeepsie' scene (don't ask), we're cutting her out of the rest of the movie..." This subtracts ten minutes.

Rebuttal: Cutting out one of the girls? Yeah, that's worth the extra ten minutes. And Charlotte's news is HUGE. I care, and so do millions of other fans, you big jerk. Also, the Poughkeepsie scene is hilarious, and it serves a major function by making Carrie laugh at last. It's great to see them all laugh together. And "punishment" is an interesting word choice... why stop at cutting her out of the film? Just flog her and put that bitch in her place.

7. This final cut subtracts 10 minutes. "...which means Big can't come to Charlotte's aid late in the movie anymore, setting up the ending. He and Carrie will just have to run into each other in the supercloset now. Seems a little random, but at least it gets us out of here."

Rebuttal: Yeah, setting up the ending is SO overrated. The run-in between Charlotte and Big got one of the best reactions at my screening. It's two-fold: she gets to tell him off (and he deserves it), and he has to help her with her "news flash." Since we care about Charlotte, this is a rather important event. But hey, cut out her delivering her first naturally conceived child - no biggie, right? Not like she had been longing to get pregnant for years or anything. Besides, this is the perfect way to bring Carrie and Big back together.

Total running time: 146 minutes
Our running time (Kirschling is apparently speaking for all men): 69 minutes

Anyone else think he planned that to come out to 69 minutes? Seems awfully convenient.

Why Gregory Kirschling decided to write this two weeks after the film came out bewilders me. Why is he still suffering so? I know respectable publications like Entertainment Weekly and the Chicago Tribune post stuff like this because they know it's going to cause controversy. So maybe I'm playing right into a trap, but I don't care. Why does Kirschling feel the need to manit (man + edit) the film? I have never once seen a woman do something similar in EW...or anywhere else. If we could only stop sewing long enough and take those scissors to some of the "dick flicks" (get it? I think that could catch on), those movies would be chopped up beyond recognition. But women don't, and you know why? We have been persecuted for so long that we understand how to exercise tolerance.

To play devil's advocate, though, I'll edit a dick flick. How about Transformers? (And I'm not saying there aren't women who like Transformers. I'm making a general assumption like these media assholes.) I do admit that Transformers is geared toward men and Sex and the City is geared toward women. But this is like telling a little boy that he can't play with a doll and telling a little girl that she can't play with a truck. I know SATC's core audience is female, but there are plenty of male followers, gay and straight.

Anyway... Transformers...

Running time: 144 minutes
"Our" version: Zero minutes

There you go. If you want to be spiteful, I can be, too.

Now, my Kirschling attack was just the appetizer. It's time for the main course. Maybe I should order a cosmo...or ten.

John Kass wrote his article on May 14, 2008. Before the film even came out, he was spitting on it. How about giving it a fucking chance first? I don't know who makes me more mad: Kirschling for writing his spiel AFTER the film's success or Kass for writing his misogynistic whinefest BEFORE the release. Kirschling's belated bitchslap undermines the tangible, positive steps made for women, but Kass prematurely undermines it and, at the same time, tries to stop it before it starts. And Kass is much more offensive and pointed in his piece, so he's definitely the worst of the worst. Let's break down Kass' article, sexist bit by sexist bit.

"Because no man should feel the agony of this film" by John Kass:

"Today's column contains a free John Kass' Get Out of Watching the Sex and the City Movie Card, or Kass' SATC Absolvo Carta for short, and I'm offering it for this simple reason:

I can still hear the terrified cries of men from across the sea, from England, men scared stiff by the new Sex and the City movie premiere, and such cries are cries of warning to men in America, where this evil film will debut in a few weeks."

Rebuttal: First, I'll start off by saying that John Kass is more then entitled to his opinion. But, as this is a free country, so am I.
That being said, on to the bashing:

Referring to yourself (I periodically speak TO Kass in this entry) in the third person in the first sentence reeks of arrogance. Yes, you can actually print out a certificate (more on that later). How delightfully interactive of him. Get a life. Doesn't he have anything better to do than come up with a certificate? If a man gave me that certificate, I would slice his throat with the paper. Any man who presents that certificate to any woman with self-respect and concern for her gender will be in danger of bodily harm or being denied sex infinitely. Terrified cries? Very melodramatic for such a macho man, don't you think? He calls it an "evil" film. Not just bad or annoying...EVIL. Credibility = gone.

"One of the first shrieks of woe came from a regular guy named Phil. His warning was posted in the Times Online, as a comment on the review of the film that premiered the other day in London.

'I don't think SATC is just for girls. I am a reasonably well-adjusted bloke and I am looking forward to seeing the film with my girlfriend. I am then looking forward to poking my eyes out with red-hot pokers, burning my skin off, and rolling around in salt for a while.' - Phil Mann, Newcastle upon Tyne."

Rebuttal: Men shriek now? Maybe he should confer with Kirschling about that. Well, Phil, once your girlfriend read your comments, I bet she was looking forward to your self-mutilation, also.

"He's not alone. Millions of men are sick about this movie based on a TV show about four terrifying, rich, aging, elitist women who whine about sex and men and purchase $700 pairs of shoes to feel better about themselves. What guy wouldn't love such a movie?"

Rebuttal: MILLIONS of men? Hyperbole central. One might say Kass is acting hysterical, a horrid word that originated due to male doctors' ignorance at diagnosing female patients, especially in the past couple hundred years. Rather than find something actually wrong with the patient, she'd basically just be labeled "crazy," overreacting to silly women's problems that couldn't be handled by someone so feeble, and tossed aside. Don't believe me? Doesn't hysterical sound awfully similar to hysterectomy, the procedure in which the uterus is removed? Ugh. History is fun.

"Terrifying": Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha are terrifying? Why, because they're successful and independent? Because they embrace their sexuality? Because they would probably make fun of your sexual inadequacies? When did they turn into monsters?

"Rich": Why is rich used as a derogatory term? Because they make their own money? It's so irrelevant...unless you're a threatened man.

"Elitist": This is totally out of line. What makes them elitists? They like nice things, and they can afford them. Maybe you're confusing being an elitist with having standards.

"Whine about sex and men": Have you never had a bad sexual experience or relationship? Just because men are too uncomfortable to discuss their feelings doesn't mean the SATC women should be insulted for venting. They don't whine; they talk. Your article, John Kass, is whining. Besides, the name of the show is Sex and the City - what do you think they're going to talk about, needlepoint?

"Purchase $700 pairs of shoes to feel better about themselves": Hmm, oink, oink, Mr. Kass. They aren't purchasing the shoes to feel better about themselves; they just like shoes! They prefer not to walk around barefoot in New York. So, they're expensive. They earn their own money, so they can spend it how they want. And if a pair is occasionally bought to make them happy or to "feel better about themselves," what's wrong with that? Has a man never bought something he wanted just because he thought he deserved it or because it would cheer him up? What a crime.

"What guy wouldn't love such a movie?" Kass asks. Well, no guy if he approaches it with the same condescending, smug attitude. And besides, no one is asking you to.

"Naturally, millions of men are ready to poke their eyes out with red-hot pokers, peel their skin off and roll around in salt - and if not salt, then we'll soak in a bathtub of lemon juice and slit our wrists with Manolo Blahnik credit card receipts - if our wives or girlfriends demand we accompany them to Sex and the City.


Rebuttal: All of those things you described, yes, you go do them. Demand? Are they really "demanding"? Or are they just asking you, as part of a loving relationship, to at least attempt to show some respect and take an interest in something that they enjoy? Honestly, what woman would want to take a man like John Kass, or the apparently millions of others, to see SATC? We all want to go with our girlfriends. Stop being so narcissistic.

"It is the never-ending question to the never-ending story, why men would rather chop their toes off with a rusty hoe than walk across the street to see Sex and the City.

Why? Tell me why."

Rebuttal: Why, why, why? Sheesh, talk about whiny. Does baby need a nap? No one's stopping you from chopping your toes off with a rusty hoe. Actually, we might stop you so we can leave it out in the rain a couple more nights. "Tell me why"? Is he going to launch into the Backstreet Boys?

"'I just don't understand why you men don't like Sex and the City,' said a woman on Tuesday. 'I had a nice man over to my house. We were watching TV and Sex and the City came on, the show. And I said, 'Oh, let's watch Sex and the City and he said, 'You like that romantic [stuff]?' And I said yes.' And then I never saw him again. My friends said, 'Girl, you don't need a man like that. He's nothing but a loser.' I don't know if he was a loser. But he sure disappeared."

Rebuttal: First off, I feel sorry for this woman who spoke to John Kass. Secondly, YES, honey, he was a loser. Any man who would leave you over something like a TV show or, for that matter, any man who would compare a film to the forces of evil, is a loser.

"Sadly, that's just another example of the painful truth: Women Just Don't Get It. Because when it comes to Sex and the City, women don't care about our needs, our desires, our deepest hidden
longings - and our phobias about $700 pairs of Manolo Blahnik shoes. I've never seen such shoes. But if I saw the bill, I'd begin to cry."

Rebuttal: Yes, women ARE idiots. We clearly don't get it. Oh, right, it's the women who don't care. We're so selfish. Men's needs, desires, and deepest hidden longings? What, to avoid a movie? It's about damn time men cater to the needs, desires, and deepest hidden longings of women! Wake up! This isn't the 19th century. And hey, the women in SATC are proud to buy their own Manolos. I can't speak for women everywhere (like John Kass evidently deems himself worthy of speaking for men everywhere), but we don't need men to buy us stuff. And any man willing to spend the money, well, that's his choice, isn't it?

"So today, and today only, I'm offering absolution to every manjack on the planet. It's your Get out of Sex and the City Absolution Card.

Just sign this, and show it to your wife or girlfriend, and they'll be prohibited by Kassian law from making you see the movie. If they persist, drop me a line, and we'll report their crimes in the paper, showing them to be nothing more than unrepentant SATC-istas.

OK, have you cut it out? Have you signed it? Or have you clicked to and printed it out? If you have, then I've got three things to say: Absolvo. Absolvo. Absolvo. It's all over. Stop worrying. You don't have to go.

Use the card at your discretion."

Rebuttal: "Absolution" is an awfully grandiose, loaded word. I thought that only kings or the Pope could offer absolution. How lucky we are to have John Kass amongst the rest of us mere mortals, granting his benelovent justice. Ooh, Kassian law, huh? So, one might say he's the Hammurabi of our times.

Seriously, any man who prints out the certificate, signs it, and presents it to his lady should be prepared for banishment to yonder couch. I know that Kass thinks he's being witty and hilarious, but this sentence bothers the heck out of me: "If they persist, drop me a line, and we'll report their crimes in the paper, showing them to be nothing more than unrepentant SATC-istas." It's so sinisterly anti-women that it makes me want to vomit. I don't even have a response except to say that if you don't get what's wrong with that sentence, you must have had a lobotomy. Yeah, use the card at your discretion: like at the risk of dumping, death by paper cut, or a Manolo to the eye. Sheesh.

"Whew, glad that's over. But the last thing I need are a horde of SATC-istas writing me, saying this is all mere macho posturing.

Aren't I the guy who champions Guy Cry Movies? The guy who suggested that you rent Random Harvest and An Affair to Remember for Valentine's Day? Yes, indeed. So take your Manolo Blahniks and smoke them in your pipe, if you have one."

Rebuttal: Oh no, John, you're wrong. This is far from over. The last thing he needs is a horde (what are we, animals?) of SATC-istas writing him? Please. He's begging for it with this article. He's asking for a fight. Wow, congrats on "championing" Guy Cry movies. Maybe mentioning more than two would make your argument more compelling, or else picking films that are weepies but also feature substance and strong women. No one can honestly say that the beautiful-yet-simpering Greer Garson in Random Harvest or the rather uninspiring Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember are strong feminine role models. Kass is still too limited and intimidated. I bet Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn make him quake in his bunny slippers. Is that really his justification for spewing this misogynistic bullshit, that he recommended two movies? And they're stereotypically women's movies, meaning that they're movies men think that women love (the ONLY kind they love) or movies that will help them score if they sit through them and squeeze out a tear. Disgusting. This IS macho posturing of the highest order.

"Otherwise, listen to what unmarried guys have to say.

'I'm not going,' said my young apprentice, the Polish Spartacus, whose girlfriend is a confirmed SATC-ista. 'She wants to see the movie. Fine. But I'm not going.'

Oh yes, you're going.

'I'm not going! I'm not!'

We'll see.

He said the same thing about 27 Dresses and Juno.

'OK, but I really hated Juno, that damn thing. I was so miserable,' he said.

But you saw it.

'Yeah, but I'm not going to see Sex and the City,' he said.

Of course you're not. Sign the card. Show it to your girlfriend.

Defend thee.

Rebuttal: The Polish Spartacus? That's a somewhat homoerotic label for his pal.

Did you notice?

John Kass likes to write one sentence at a time.

And then put a space in between.

He thinks it gives his words gravity.

Isn't that annoyingly pretentious?

Anyway, discussing 27 Dresses and Juno in the same sentence is blasphemous. Juno is NOT a chick flick. It's a humanist film that just happens to have an empowering heroine at its core. I don't know why Kass felt this exchange between himself and Spartacus was necessary to share with us. Maybe because it makes him look like some sort of middle-aged hero with great wisdom to impart to the next generation? Wow, imagine THAT world. We'd be doomed. "Defend thee"? How noble Kass' mission is.

Kass' last words: "Oh, the horror. The horror." Wait, those are MY last words about his article. HIS last words are: "They can take our remote controls, but they'll never take our freedom!"

Rebuttal: I imagine him proclaiming that, punctuating it with a Tim Allen-style grunt, and pounding his chest with one fist. "Women bad. Must stop movie. Kass mad." And then he grabs his woman by the hair, drags her across the ground as he lumbers off toward his cave, club over one shoulder and, forgetting to duck, bangs his protruding forehead on the rock of the cave's his woman laughs.

One movie has got you in this much of an uproar? He was trying to undermine the movie before it even came out. He knew it would be successful, but probably not HOW successful. I hope he was sitting down when he heard the box office numbers. How ignorant for him to diminish the significance of the one major movie event for women in the history of cinema.

Honestly, this is the first potential (and confirmed) female blockbuster. How childish of him to try to snatch the victory away from us (not like we would let him, but his attempt speaks volumes, about him and the state of gender equality in this deplorable country).

Oh, let's take a look at Kass' cute little certificate.

This part is my favorite: "...shall not be compelled, or enticed or whined at or nagged at or begged or pouted into having to sit through the Sex and the City movie. And if any girlfriend or female relation tries anything uncool, they will rue the day."

Is that all women do? Whine, nag, beg, pout, and entice? Oh, sorry, for all you chauvinists out there, let me translate Kass' words: Oink oink. Oink oink oink.


Oink oink.


I don't care if this article is supposed to be a joke. There's nothing funny about misogyny or even faux-misogyny. People don't take the time or energy to tell the difference. And I don't think it IS faux. This article stems from a dark, miserable, angry, hateful place. Think of the impression you're giving off, John Kass, the ramifications of these venomous statements. How dare you pump your poison into society?

Why are you so threatened by this hyper-feminine (to borrow a phrase from my dear colleague Sara Freeman) film? Are you that insecure? And for someone who hates it so much, John Kass devoted quite a bit of time to writing about it. Are you a closet SATC-ista (is that his term? I've never heard it before) perhaps, John Kass? Don't be afraid. It's okay to let it out. We (women) won't judge you. That's your job - to judge us. Or is it your right as a man to judge us? And don't think I forgot about you, Gregory Kirschling, and all the rest of you pathetic, sniveling men out there so intimidated by the idea of women banding together and embracing their sexuality and femininity.

Fuck you, Gregory Kirschling and (especially) John Kass. You give men a bad name. You're the reason women become man-haters in the first place. For every gain we make, you make damn sure to do your part to try to set the women's movement back. The operative word is "try," because you will never succeed. A $120 million and growing U.S. box office proves that.

The last line of Kass' article slays me: "They can take our remote controls, but they'll never take our freedom!"

We'll never take YOUR freedom? What an asinine statement! I'll tell you where you can shove your freedom! How's your throne in the Land of Delusions, Mr. Kass? Comfortable? Well, we're sick and tired of catering to YOUR comforts. How about our comfort for a change? What about our freedom since the beginning of time, you jackass?! Haven't we been oppressed enough? You couldn't forego your petty, chauvinistic column and let us have this one? Must we ALWAYS fight?

Well, John Kass, men like you and Mr. Kirschling are the reasons why we fight, and why we'll continue to fight, and why we'll win. Yes, some day, we will win total equality, and YOU will rue the day. And...we'll look fabulous while doing it. We might even be wearing a $700 pair of Manolos.

1 comment:

Bill Treadway said...
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